My 2-Year-Old is Not Too Old to Breastfeed

I am currently breastfeeding my 2-year-old, Exley, and my 5-year-old, Jack. I am one of those tandem breastfeeders you hear about. I don’t post many pics of Jack nursing anymore because he usually only nurses to sleep at night, maybe for a few seconds during the day when he thinks of it, but then he’s off again. So what people mostly see is Exley and me. He’s the baby, he nurses often and I snap the pics.

The other day someone commented under a photo I posted on Facebook that “he is too old to breastfeed.” I was taken aback because I was sure I posted a pic of Exley. I checked the photo to see if it was Jack, but no, there was Exley. The baby. He is apparently too old to breastfeed. It took all of my self-control not to post a photo of Jack under her comment and ask what she had to say about that!

13698211_1162702147130629_6888226565853848359_oThe photo

There are so many things wrong with this perspective that I can barely think straight, but I’ll give it a try.

I can’t stand the way our culture forces the tiniest of humans to grow up so fast. Exley is not a newborn baby. But have you spent time with a 2-year-old? They are not that far removed from that stage, with maybe some incomprehensible words and a terrible excuse for gross motor skills. He doesn’t even feel like a toddler to me, although I am sure that is what everyone is dying to correct me with. “He’s a toddler, Abby, he’s not a baby. You have to let him grow up sometime!” I assure you I have no ability to stop him from growing and the game of semantics with our children just feeds into the whole notion that every day they are that much older and Exley really should look into getting a bank account. When we are at the playground and the older children run around I often hear parents say, “Watch out for the baby!” Sounds right to me.

I remember this with Jack. We were so excited for what the future held with him that we wanted him to grow up really fast. He turned 1 and I said, “Well, he’s not a baby anymore, he’s a toddler!” I was really excited to have a toddler. I look back at pictured of 1-year-old Jack. BABY JACK.

IMG_3020Jack is a baby here

Right now I just go by feel. Just because Jack has the vocabulary of a 25-year-old doesn’t make him any older. I have tried hard to remember that just because Jack is 5 and it sounds really old and society expects certain things from him that he is still very young. Closer to that baby description than any grown up.

Exley feels like a baby. And just like breastmilk doesn’t magically change upon certain designated birthdays neither do our children. I’ll call him a baby until he doesn’t seem like a baby anymore.

A 2-year-old is too old to breastfeed? What a sad fucking society we live in. Was he too old at 23 months? 22 months? 18 months? When is the cutoff? Who wrote this Book of Breastfeeding Rules? Where can I get a copy? Because someone needs to tell Exley that he’s too old. He doesn’t seem to know this. He nurses all day and all night. It’s like he thinks it’s normal or something.

Women have enough to deal with. There is so much stigma around breastfeeding and our bodies. It’s a sad day when someone can look upon someone else minding their own business, feeding their child, being kind, being loving, a mother with her child and say that there is something inherently wrong with it. A 2-year-old, I mean, wow.

20160422_080919My 2-year-old

I love being able to see how much my perspective has changed over the years. Exley seems like a young nursling to me and Jack just seems normal. I know that I did not start out thinking this way. I know that I would have said 5 years ago that nursing a 5-year-old was gross. Actually no, I would thought that, I don’t purposefully say mean things to other people. Another annoying aspect of this thing. You think he’s too old? Great, no asked you. Keep it to yourself.

About Abby Theuring

Abby Theuring
The Badass Breastfeeder is a mother, writer, social worker, attachment parent, proud breastfeeder and advocate. Her career as a social worker has shown her that gentle and connected parenting is vital for life-long emotional health.You can find her blog at www.thebadassbreastfeeder.com and Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TheBadassBreastfeeder.

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6 comments

  1. I’m another mother nursing similar ages to you. My daughter is five and my son is turning two in a few weeks. My daughter is slowly nursing less and less because she really wants me to get pregnant again and she knows I don’t have any cycles. She started out saying one day every ten days when she turned five and now she is only nursing one day every thirteen days. She is determined to get another sibling:))) I know it’s unprectable how much less my son may have to nurse to make pregnancy a possibility again, but I love seeing that she loves being a sister:)))

  2. I think you should do what you feel is best. Personally, I just could not nurse a 5 year old. I’m trying to wean my daughter completely off the boob right now, she’s almost 3. She only likes it to fall asleep but it’s creating a problem in my life as I cannot work, my job is a DJ so mostly I work at night. Nursing her to sleep is putting all the burden on me and I am unable to work. So, I need to stop. But if you feel like you are happy with the way things are, I fully support your choices. Mum’s know what’s best for THEIR children <3 Lots of love to you xxx

  3. I had 3 children from 1968 to 1978. I weaned my first on someone else’s schedule and was so sorry. After my second I found a La Leche group and used baby led weaning. My last 2 just nursed less and less in their third years and by 4 had stopped. I got some good natured teasing from my family about me living in their dorm rooms at college but there was no social media! I hope I would have been as out spoken as you if there was. I am pretty sure if my 2nd and 3rd had been closer in age I would have had a situation more like yours. He had no constant reminder. You sound like a perfect nursing mom to me!
    All my boys turned out to be wonderful men. Two are married and have been great dads and were very supportive of their breast feeding wives. They are all close to me now even though they live far away and they make me feel loved and cared about.
    When I remember holding my babies I am always nursing them; I guess they are my best memories!

    • Love your comment!! My son is 13 months and still nursing whenever he wants. I work full-time, so it’s less often than when he was little and I was home. But still, I love it and know it’s good for him! I have gotten some “teasing” comments from my family though, implying he’s getting too old for it. Luckily I don’t agree and don’t let them decide. It can be hard though! Thanks for sharing your experience!! It’s always good to know you’re not alone!

  4. I’m still nursing my 29.5 month old and I don’t see any end in sight! I don’t want to wean her so I will be waiting until she weans herself and if that means I’ll be tandem nursing, that’s fine with me. In the big scheme of things these tiny little souls will only be tiny for such a short time. The complete dependency they have on us is something to be cherished and nursing gives my daughter so much comfort. I will not be the one to take that away from her.
    I’m so shocked when I read these things that people say to mothers for breastfeeding their child. It’s so wrong! I know everybody is entitled to their opinion, but I also live by the rule that if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it! (There is obviously an exception to every rule, however, people’s opinion of a mother nursing her child is not one of those exceptions!) My own personal experience has been nothing like this however. I have gotten nothing but support from everyone around me. I have however stated that my goal is to breastfeed at least until the two year mark and longer if my daughter wants to. I’ve also said that I will not be weaning her but allowing her to wean herself. I don’t know if these statements from the get go made a difference in people feeling like they can express their opinion to me about stopping or if they agree with my sentiments. My mom breastfed me for 2.5-3 years, in amongst all her formula feeding friends. (Back then there would have been a huge push to formula feed and my mom was actually considered a “hippee” for breastfeeding! My mom is not a “hippee” by any stretch of the imagination.) I’ve also never had anybody say anything to me or give me any dirty looks in public. Maybe I haven’t noticed or maybe it’s my “resting bitch face” that scares people off. Regardless I have nothing but good experiences with breastfeeding my daugher (other than the first couple of weeks when she was first born and she had thrush and trouble latching) I love love love it!!!

  5. Don’t let a Facebook troll get under your skin. Your boys are both a good age to breastfeed. I might feel differently if they were 18 and 15. Even then it’s your children not mine so I probably would keep it to myself. Good job at tandom nursing it’s not easy for sure.

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